Resistance Training & Program Design part 3

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Program Design, Review Topics | 0 comments

(see Step2)

Step 3: Training Frequency

How many times a week should you train?  What’s your physical activity currently like?  These are questions that any coach or lifter may have.  I have it myself when wondering how often I should train, given that I play frisbee twice a week.  I know after playing frisbee and beating myself up with max effort sprints, jumps, and dives that I do NOT feel up for lifting.  As a result I usually fit 2-3 sessions in a week.  But when it’s raining I can fit in more like 4 sessions.  Much like my scenario, common sense will help dictate how often you should have an athlete train.  Consider these factors:

  • Training Status
  • Sport Season
  • Estimated exercise loads
  • Types of exercise
  • Other concurrent activities

Most of this is common sense, but the NSCA establishes some general guidelines to work between.

Training Status Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Sessions per week 2-3 3-4 4-7

Also spacing is a consideration, and again…more common sense here.  Space training sessions evenly so that training status never declines.  Two sessions should be spaced M-Th, or T-F, so that 2 or 3 days break between activity…never more than 3 days spacing.

Split routines are common for highly trained athletes.  This allows more training sessions per week by focusing days on specific muscle groups.  For example, M&Th are upper body days, T&F lower body days, giving two days rest for each muscle group but training a total of four days.

Obviously if you are training a professional football player, you would not program in a heavy squat session for the day before, or likely after, game day.  You don’t want the training to interfere with game day, nor the game day activity to interfere with training.

Here are the NSCA’s guidelines for training sessions by sport season:

Sport Season Sessions per week
Off-season 4-6
Preseason 3-4
In-season 1-3
Postseason (active rest) 0-3

Other Considerations
Max effort exercises have been shown to take longer to recover from, which is why powerlifters will only max out squats or deadlifts once per week.  There is some evidence that alternating heavy and light days improves recovery.

And finally, more common sense:  If the athlete has other activities, whether training or job related, these must also be considered and training adjusted appropriately.

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